Tiger Woods targets the 150th Open: ‘I would love to play at St Andrews’
But the American admits a return to golf full-time is not a ‘realistic expectation’
Tiger Woods has played down the chances of a full-time return to professional golf after sustaining life-threatening injuries in a serious car accident in February. The 15-time major champion does, however, have one big goal for next year: playing the 150th Open at St Andrews in Scotland.
The 45-year-old American feels “lucky to be alive” after the crash in California left him with comminuted open fractures to both the tibia and the fibula in his right leg. He spent three weeks in the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and faced the possibility of amputation.
Speaking at a press conference ahead of the Hero World Challenge, Woods “opened up about the struggles he faced during the early stages of his recovery”, Sky Sports said. “I’m lucky to be alive but also still to have the limb,” he admitted. “Those are two crucial things. I’m very grateful that someone upstairs was taking care of me, that I’m able to not only be here but also to walk without a prosthesis.”
After months of rehabilitation, Woods has returned to the driving range and last month he posted a video on social media hitting an iron shot which was captioned “making progress”. The video “fueled significant hype and speculation on a return”, but “Woods suggested he is nowhere near ready to compete on the PGA Tour”, Golf Digest said.
“I don’t have to compete and play against the best players in the world to have a great life,” he told the magazine. “I can still participate in the game of golf. I can still, if my leg gets OK, I can still click off a tournament here or there. But as far as climbing the mountain again and getting all the way to the top, I don’t think that’s a realistic expectation of me.”
‘I need to get there’
While a return to playing a full tour schedule is highly unlikely, Woods does want to target certain one-off tournaments. And although he “faces a race to be fit”, clearly next year’s Open is among them, said the BBC’s golf correspondent Iain Carter.
In July the 150th edition of The Open Championship will be played at St Andrews’s Old Course – Woods’s “favourite course in the world” and where he won two of his three Open titles.
“I would love to be able to play that Open Championship, there’s no doubt,” Woods said. “Physically, hopefully I can. The tournament’s not going to go anywhere, but I need to get there.”
The idea of Woods coming back to play full-time was “something that nobody would have expected”, said Sky Sports golf columnist Rob Lee. But for him to say he might be able to play a few tournaments a year is “nothing short of an absolute miracle”.